10 top tips for solo holidays
10 top tips for solo holidays
Travelling alone can be a very rewarding experience – if you plan well. Here’s what you need to know to help you enjoy your next adventure for one.
1. Learn some of the local language
Try to learn at least a few basic phrases in the languages of the countries you’ll be visiting, before you set off on your travels. Knowing how to introduce yourself, being able to start a basic conversation and knowing how to count from at least one to 10 could make a big difference. Plus, people are likely to appreciate that you're making an effort to speak their language, even if your pronunciation and accent are less than perfect.
2. Plan (some of) your route
Part of the joy of solo travel is that you can, within reason, go exactly where you want, when you want. But freedom can quickly turn to chaos if you’ve not bothered to create at least a rough plan for your travels. At the very least you should be aware of your budget and be clear on how you’ll manage your spending while you’re abroad. And make sure you have the right visas for the countries you’re visiting.
3. Know the etiquette of eating alone
Even the most sophisticated traveller can find the prospect of dining out on their own a challenge. It can be twice as scary if you’re in a place where language and customs are barriers. You might build up your confidence by starting small: find a popular coffee shop or bar where you can grab a snack. Then take the plunge with a full-on dinner out at a restaurant the following day.
4. Don’t be shy
Not having a travel companion means you’ll have to be super resourceful at times to get what you need. You may be surprised at the willingness of strangers to help you out with directions and advice, even if you can’t speak the local lingo. But you might have to hustle a bit and push through any shyness to get the help you need. Just be sure to take sensible precautions when you strike up conversations with strangers…
5. Learn a new life skill
Travelling alone is a great opportunity to master a new challenge. Whether it’s honing your yoga skills, learning to cook the local food or mastering a new language, a solo holiday is a great opportunity to discover talents you didn’t know you had.
6. Hone the art of small talk
Long-distance sleeper trains… day tours… passport queues... there are likely to be lots of moments when you can start a conversation with fellow travellers. You’ll want to quickly learn the ‘elevator pitch’ that you’ll use to introduce yourself, and the best ways to strike up new conversations. Get it right and you just might end up making some great new friends.
7. Look beyond the popular hostels and hotels
It’s not just Airbnb or Couchsurfing that have opened up new places to stay for travellers across the globe. In Cuba, for example, ‘casas particulares’ (private houses) are available to tourists for bed and breakfast. The chance to rub shoulders with the locals offers a great opportunity to immerse yourself in a different culture. And if you’re looking for an inexpensive place to sleep, why not try camping? Many parts of Scandinavia allow ‘wild camping’ which is free.
8. Be open to new friendships
Many solo holidaymakers end up meeting like-minded folk who they’ll stay in touch with long after their trips ends. After all, you both had the idea to travel solo, so you already have something in common to talk about when you meet after your adventure is over.
9. Go easy on the tippling
Don’t forget to pace yourself when it comes to unwinding with a few glasses of the local tipple after a hard day’s travel. A good general rule is that drinking lots of Ouzo, Tequila or any other liquor – with or without a worm in it – won’t make you bigger, smarter or more compos mentis. Bear in mind that, if you have an accident or are injured when you’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs, your travel insurance will most likely be invalid.
10. Try volunteering
Why not take the opportunity to give something back on your travels? Volunteering takes many forms, from construction projects for charities, to English language teaching and working in animal sanctuaries. As well as helping local communities, a volunteering opportunity can result in great new friendships.